Thursday, December 31, 2015

Montreal-based La Presse ends 131 years of daily printed news

The Globe and Mail's James Bradshaw writes:
"The presses have stopped at La Presse, as the newspaper’s last weekday print edition hits doorsteps on Thursday.
"As promised in September, the Montreal-based daily is scrapping its Monday-to-Friday printed papers starting Jan. 1, ending a 131-year run of publishing hard-copy news throughout the week.
"The last daily print copy is a special edition featuring dozens of momentous front pages from the paper’s history. And La Presse will still deliver newsprint copies on Saturdays. But daily printing is coming to an otherwise quiet halt, without even so much as a newsroom gathering planned to mark the end of an era.
“'Maybe it’s a sign that a lot of people here have already turned the page – pardon the pun,' said Charles Côté, president of Le syndicat des travailleurs de l’information de La Presse (STIP), the union that represents newsroom staff, and also the paper’s environment reporter. 'We’ve been told for the past three years that the tablet is our main driver now.'”
The whole story

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ready for pick-and-pay with TV channels? Who wins, who loses?

"Beginning March 1, 2016, all Canadian TV providers will have to offer a basic package of channels for no more than $25 a month and give consumers the option of ordering individual channels a la carte or in small bundles. By December, TV providers must offer both a la carte ordering and small channel bundles."
Full Toronto Star story

Friday, December 25, 2015

Can YouTube kill YTV? Networks grapple with shakeup in kids’ television

The Star's Robin Levenson King writes: (excerpt)
When Netflix and YouTube first came onto the scene, many thought kids would be immune to the charms of binge watching.
“Kids were underestimated,” said (Vince) Commisso (of Toronto's Studio 9), who got his start at Nelvana Studios in 1992 at the height of the boom. People in the industry assumed that the editorial role of the network was essential for kids and parents, who needed help finding good shows, he said. Instead, children have proven to be the most challenging on-demand viewers yet. Now, streaming services are investing big in children’s television, in part because it tends to be cheaper to produce and because it has a big payoff in terms of shelf life and merchandise tie-ins.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Russell Smith: Say bye to the online comment section as you know it

The Globe and Mail's Russell Smith writes:
"Has one of the great promises of the Internet finally shown to be false? The democracy that instant free publishing promised, the sense that everyone would have a say – are we bored with this already? It has been fewer than 10 years since comments sections on news stories began to be heavily plugged as avenues for 'engagement' and debate, and now many major media outlets are reconsidering their existence.
"The CBC has announced it is suspending commenting on any stories relating to First Nations issues, as the outright racism they provoked was vile and uncontrollable. The Toronto Star has announced an end to all online commenting on stories (although they will accept letters sent to the editor for a special section). This trend actually began a couple of years ago, when both Popular Science and Scientific American shut off their comments sections – following studies that showed that readers were unconsciously influenced in their judgments of scientific research if they read highly negative comments about it. In other words, comments create bias.
"The Star’s reasons are partly principled and partly pragmatic: Their editors said that the comments sections were often filled with useless vitriol and simply not worth reading."

John Doyle: From Harper’s sweater to Freeland’s red dress, it’s fair game

"This column’s recent Top Ten Most Irritating Canadians (TV-related) for 2015 irked JtG’s posse to no end. Apparently, mocking Chrystia Freeland for her ostentatious, repetitive wearing of a red dress is the work of a sexist 'journo pig' and is, in general, overt sexism of the worst sort. The sort that gets some people to claim they will never read this newspaper again, ever. Ever, ever, ever.
"No less an eminence than Gerald Butts, 'Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Trudeau,' weighed in on Twitter to admonish yours truly and to claim, for Freeland, 'She ended a 7 yr spat with our #1 trading partner in 30 days.' Right. That’s some magic red dress Freeland is wearing, obviously.
"Now you’d think the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Trudeau would have better things to do than engage with a TV critic’s tongue-in-cheek year-end column, and helping unleash Twitter-shaming, but it’s an illuminating incident, I think.
"No humour allowed, no mocking, no teasing! Is that the gist? You’re either a booster for the magical kingdom or you’re some kind of “journo pig.” "Next thing, merely rolling your eyes about the magical kingdom will be frowned upon."
(Amanda Lang tops Doyle's list. Freeland is only No. 7! -- the link above click through to the original.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hazel Ann Desbarats obit

Hazel Ann Desbarats (nee Rickets), widow of the late Peter Desbarats has died at age 79. Below is a link to the paid announcement.
Obituary announcement in the Globe and Mail

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Chronicle Herald's talks with newsroom staff break down

The largest independently-owned newspaper in the country has more contract trouble, this time with its newsroom staff, the CBC reports.
The Chronicle Herald has ended talks with a conciliator after two days, said Dave Wilson, a representative of the Communication Workers of America, of which the Halifax Typographical Union is Local 30130. The union represents 61 news employees.
"We are pretty confident the employer is going to lock us out," Wilson said.
Herald management could lock out employees 14 days after the conciliator files a report, likely close to the end of January, he said.
More from the CBC web page

Producer Stan Jacobson dead at 85

Fred Langan writes:
Stan Jacobson produced dozens of Canadian and American television shows over five decades, including several seasons of The Wayne and Shuster Show. He also produced live spectacles, such as the opening ceremony of the 1988 Calgary Olympics and the opening of the SkyDome, in Toronto, in June, 1989. But it was a CBC television special on Johnny Cash, which Mr. Jacobson produced, wrote and directed, that changed both men’s lives.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Gil Cardinal: Canadian documentarian found his identity in film (Globe obit)

For more than 30 years, Gil Cardinal was a pre-eminent Canadian filmmaker, best known for documentaries, such as Foster Child, The Spirit Within, David with F.A.S. and Totem. Mr. Cardinal also worked on the TV miniseries Big Bear and Indian Summer: The Oka Crisis, as well as episodes of the series North of 60.
Gilbert Joseph Cardinal died in Edmonton on Nov. 21 of cirrhosis. He had been hospitalized for the final months of his life as he experienced a serious health decline complicated by diabetes. He was 65. (Excerpt from the obit by James Cullingham)
 Link fo obit

How the business is changing!

This series, announced last March, is airing its first episode Saturday night at 7 p.m. (the usual W5 time slot) From Bell Media's initial announcement last March:
"The customer is always right! CTV announced today from Prime Time in Ottawa the start of production on the new one-hour reality series pilot, DREAM FUNDED: LET THE CROWD DECIDE, produced by CTV in association with Entertainment One (eOne), Highway Entertainment, and United Artists Media Group. The pilot is the first project from Bell Media’s partnership with United Artists Media Group (a newly formed joint venture among MGM, Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, and Hearst Entertainment) and Omnicom Media Groups’ Highway Entertainment. Hosted by TSN’s James Duthie, DREAM FUNDED: LET THE CROWD DECIDE offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to earn up to $50,000 by pitching their untested business ideas to a crowd of 100 real consumers. Production begins today in Toronto through March 10.
“'DREAM FUNDED puts an entertaining spin on the crowd-funding phenomenon, where the crowd invests in everyday products, making dreams come true for emerging entrepreneurs while creating a feel-good show,” said Phil King, President – CTV, Sports, and Entertainment Programming. 'With our partners’ stellar background in non-scripted entertainment, we anticipate the pilot will deliver high-stakes drama and real-life happy endings.'”
Link to announcement

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Toronto Star closes comments on all online stories

The Toronto Star has done away with reader comments on its website, as online comment boards at newspapers become increasingly rare, the paper's media reporter, James Bradshaw writes.
Michael Cooke, the Star’s editor, said in a note to readers posted Wednesday that the paper has closed commenting on, promising to “engage with you in a more meaningful way.”
 Instead of hosting comments, the Star plans to promote comments shared on social media, or in more traditional letters to the editor, on its website. He also said the paper will launch a campaign to have readers weigh in on important city issues in the new year.
Reader comments, once seen as a fresh way to get a newspaper’s audience more engaged in its journalism, have long been plagued by vitriol, foul language and racism, despite repeated attempts to use human and automated moderators to weed out the worst material. That has made such comment boards a dying breed on newspaper websites, as the conversation shifts to social media, where anonymity is less prevalent.
A spokesperson for the Star confirmed the decision was made “partly because of the negative tone of many comments.”

Shaw Communications agrees to buy Wind Mobile for $1.6 B

Shaw Communications (TSX:SJR.B) is making its long-anticipated foray into the wireless business by picking up Wind Mobile for $1.6 billion, CP reports.
The Calgary-based telecommunications company says it will acquire the country’s fourth-largest mobile operator by subscribers, pending a number of regulatory approvals, including the Competition Bureau and the Ministry of Innovation, Science & Economic Development.
Shaw expects the transaction to close in the third quarter of 2016.
Wind Mobile was formed exactly six years ago on Wednesday as part of group of new entrants in Canada’s wireless industry, a move encouraged by the federal Conservative government to stoke competition.
Since then, telecom giant Telus was rebuffed by the government in multiple attempts to buy Wind Mobile.
Wind Mobile has run into financial problems and has had difficulty raising money for its capital investments, but a change in its ownership structure late last year cleared the way for it to raise funds.
The Toronto-based company has 940,000 subscribers across Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

CHCH's woes sign of a larger crisis in local broadcasting: Globe

The Globe and Mail's James Bradshaw writes:
"An ambitious plan to remake a Hamilton television station as a model for revitalized local news has come undone.
"CHCH-TV, which reaches four million homes across Ontario, briefly but abruptly cancelled its newscasts last Friday as its owners announced that the company that created local news for the channel, Channel 11 LP, had filed for bankruptcy, triggering massive cutbacks.
"The network laid off all 129 full-time and 38 part-time staff members, claiming losses of $130,000 per week, then offered to hire back 71 people to similar roles under a new, numbered company contracted to create daily news. On Monday, it revived CHCH’s 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts with a skeleton staff, whose members have rallied to begin a new, leaner era.
"The restructuring signals the collapse of a vision for CHCH outlined in 2009, but it is also symptomatic of a larger problem afflicting local news.
"The industry has suffered steep revenue declines from lost advertising in a crowded television market. Local channels across Canada are fighting for survival, including those run by giants such as BCE Inc., but independently owned CHCH was supposed to be a hopeful outlier.
"Until last week, it aired 80 hours per week of local programming, far more than most stations. Now, its lineup has just 17.5 hours made locally."
The whole story

Monday, December 14, 2015

Two media companies trying digital pay-as-you-go model

The Globe and Mail's James Bradshaw reports:
News publishers have long wondered whether asking readers to pay per story could get customers who are accustomed to free news to open their wallets. This model is perennially “just around the corner,” said Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab.
 But two companies – the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper and the digital newsstand Blendle – have lately put their faith in micropayments and say the experiment looks to be gaining traction. A slice of readers have handed over their credit-card info and are buying stories one at a time – even some millennials.
Whether pay-as-you-go can draw in a wider audience remains an intriguing question for the news industry, and its stiffest test may come early in 2016, when Blendle, a European news-aggregation app that charges by the article, launches its beta version in the United States. The app has prospered in countries with a distinct language like the Netherlands, where it was founded. But the English market is another matter.
“There is so much free content in English, in North America, that I think a micropayment model will have significant challenges,” Mr. Benton said.
The whole story

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Globe's Simon Houpt on Trudeau's recasting of Canada image

The Globe and Mail's media reporter writes (excerpt):
"Mr. Trudeau’s appearance this week in two U.S. glossies – The New York Times Magazine and the high-fashion bible Vogue – gave new fuel to his critics, who will never forgive him his good hair.
"To them, he is and will remain the Selfie PM, more invested in perfecting his pout than his policies.
"But they overlook three insights underpinning his team’s apparent press strategy.
"First, Mr. Trudeau has a short window of opportunity in which to exploit the international media’s curiosity about him and thus kick-start a rebrand of Canada on the world stage.
"Second, all media are now international, which allows Mr. Trudeau to speak simultaneously to foreign audiences and supporters at home who might be a little bit thrilled to see him nestled amid the spreads of $10,000 winter coats, hot celebrities and cool cocktails.
"Third, outlets such as Vogue are natural platforms for the first Instagram prime minister.

Friday, December 11, 2015

CHCH TV suspends newscasts as company declares bankruptcy

At least 129 full-time employees and close to 30 part-timers have been let go as part of a massive restructuring of local news at CHCH TV, the Hamilton Spectator reports.
A newsroom staffer says the number of cuts was announced in a meeting with senior management Friday.
Of that group, 71 people have reportedly been offered new jobs, but it's unclear in what capacity.
With the changes, CHCH is expected to reduce its local programming from 80 hours to 25 hours a week, Unifor media sector director Howard Law reportedly told The Canadian Press.
News staff at CHCH TV learned Friday their company has filed for bankruptcy.
As of 4 p.m., newscasts were cancelled for Friday and the remainder of the weekend.
Channel Zero chair and CEO Romen Podzyhun went on the air late Friday afternoon to tell viewers that local news would return on Monday. He did not detail what changes would be happening.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

CBC workplace is psychologically unhealthy, internal poll by Gallup shows

The Star's Kevin Donovan writes:
"Many employees of Canada’s national broadcaster believe the CBC workplace is psychologically unhealthy and managers do not deal effectively with issues that may threaten or harm them, according to an internal survey carried out following the Jian Ghomeshi scandal. “'Psychological health and care for individual well-being are significant concerns,' says a report released internally to CBC and obtained by the Star. "The results show 43 per cent of survey respondents said they would not describe their workplace as psychologically healthy.
"Concerns were also raised by survey respondents over whether the CBC deals effectively with 'situations that may threaten or harm employees.' Almost a third (29 per cent) said the CBC does not.
"A CBC spokesman said the results of the survey are 'humbling.' Chuck Thompson said it 'provides a new baseline from which we will address the concerns expressed.'
"The survey, conducted for CBC in the summer by Gallup, also showed that 'pride of association' in the national broadcaster has plummeted from 92 per cent of employees feeling proud to be CBC journalists and support staff in 2012 to 69 per cent in 2015.
"Just over one half of the CBC’s 7,600 full- and part-time employees completed the survey. The questionnaire asked people to answer the questions on a 1-5 scale from 'strongly disagree' to 'strongly agree.'”
The full story

Christie Blatchford on Mike Duffy's testimony: "It was a miracle."

Christie Blatchford writes:
"And so it came to pass that Mike Duffy was at least briefly healed, for such is the sweet power of revenge.
"On Tuesday morning, the former veteran broadcaster and beleaguered senator from Prince Edward Island took the witness stand at his criminal trial on 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
"This medically frail 69-year-old man — and his lawyer, Don Bayne, already has made much of this, suggesting Duffy was particularly vulnerable to the brutish charms of the dapper set from former prime minister Stephen Harper’s office — has had two open-heart surgeries, suffers from diabetes and osteoarthritis, is on 14 medications and goes to bed with a CPAP machine forcing air into his lungs so he doesn’t wake up every 40 seconds because of sleep apnea.
"And yet, this particular morning, Duffy talked almost non-stop for two hours, barely pausing for breath, never short of wind: It was a miracle."
The full column
Our favourite excerpts:
“'I don’t know if you’ve ever been through a big corporate layoff, Mr. Bayne,' he said, 'but it is awful. It hurts the people laid off, but it kills the people who are left behind.'
"So with that background, he said, he went home that night and talked things over with his wife, Heather. 'She said, ‘I’ll do whatever you want to do, but if you go (from CTV), it’ll give the bean counters more money' and perhaps in that way the jobs of some young people could be saved.
"He did it for the kids! He was sacrificing himself for the youth!"

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Don Martin now says only one person called Arthur Kent "Dud Stud"

 CP's Bill Graveland reports:
"A columnist who wrote a piece critical of Arthur Kent during an Alberta election campaign acknowledged during testimony Monday that a paragraph in his article was not true.
"Don Martin, Postmedia and the National Post, are being sued for defamation by Kent, who became known as the Scud Stud for his Gulf War reporting on U.S. television. Martin’s 2008 column was headlined ‘Scud Stud’ a ‘Dud’ on the Election Trail.
"While cross-examining Martin on Monday, Kent’s lawyer Michael Bates pointed to a paragraph that read: “Alberta Conservatives have bestowed problem candidate Arthur Kent with a less flattering designation as he noisily blusters his way through their reeling election campaign — the Dud Scud.”
“'Isn’t it the reality that one person — that you say you can’t remember — told you that Arthur Kent was the Dud Stud? It’s one person isn’t it?' Bates asked.
“'Could be,' Martin responded.
“'Your article characterizes it as a large group of Albertans have bestowed him with that new name and that’s not true, is it?' Bates persisted.
“'I’d write it differently today,' replied Martin.
“'You’d write it differently today because as it sits in Exhibit 1, it’s not true, correct?' Bates asked.
“'That paragraph is not true. Correct.'”
Link to full CP story

Saturday, December 5, 2015

New book slams political meddling at Radio Canada

The Globe's Kate Taylor reviews a new book by former Radio Canada news director Alain Saulnier. She finds it "alarming." Excerpt:
"When Prince William and his wife, Kate, were visiting Canada in 2011, James Moore, the minister of Canadian Heritage at the time, sent an e-mail to Hubert Lacroix, president of the CBC. Moore had been watching CBC coverage of the royal visit and said, 'It’s not a big problem but …”
"The minister just wanted to remind Lacroix that the couple should correctly be called the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, not Will and Kate, and that this was a royal tour, not a royal visit, since Prince William is a future king of Canada, not a visitor. According to an alarming new book by former Radio-Canada news director Alain Saulnier, Lacroix quickly passed along the little style reminder to news executives on both the French- and English-language services."

The Globe's Simon Houpt trashes Q (the radio program)

Until the Ghomeshi scandal readers of this blog likely never heard of the CBC Radio program Q. The program was a success, especially with younger viewers. Ghomeshi was replaced by the rocker Shad and according to Simon Houpt, it's not working.
"But seven months in, it’s clear that Q still needs a strong hand at the wheel, someone who not only wants to drive but who knows where he wants to go. Shad’s written introductions are as stilted and flat as they were in April; he can’t seem to lift the words off the page. And the flaws in his interviewing style – in which he assiduously hews to a list of prepared questions and rarely follows up on anything his subjects say – have been sharply exposed during some recent high-profile sit-downs."
The whole story

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mobile streaming powers ahead of traditional TV viewing

The Associated Press reports:
The use of Internet-ready devices like smartphones appears to have seriously cut into the time Americans spend watching traditional TV, new Nielsen data show, potentially undercutting the notion that mobile devices merely serve as “second screens” while people are plopped in front of the set.
Data provided to The Associated Press show an increase in the number of 18-to-34-year-olds who used a smartphone, tablet or TV-connected device like a streaming box or game console. That grew 26 per cent in May compared with a year earlier, to an average of 8.5 million people per minute.
Those devices, which all showed gains in usage, more than offset declines in TV, radio and computers. In the same age group, the demographic most highly coveted by advertisers, use of those devices fell 8 per cent over the same period to a combined 16.6 million people per minute.

Mark Blandford was a pioneer in Canadian television

Fred Langan writes:
Mark Blandford was a linguistic and cultural chameleon whose unusual upbringing and talents allowed him to conquer the worlds of television drama in both English and French Canada.
When he arrived in Montreal after attending film school at Columbia University, he initially worked in local current affairs on the English side of CBC Television. His first ambitious project was 1975’s The October Crisis, a contentious program that ran three hours in one evening.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Former players, CTV's W5 petition court to unseal secret NHL emails

They are suing the NHL, alleging league and team officials knew or ought to have known about the links between head trauma and long-term cognitive problems but failed to act to protect players – all the while profiting from the violence of hockey.
The league says players could have put “two and two together” and done their own research about the long-term effects of repeated concussions.
The Milbury-Campbell exchange and thousands of others are now at the centre of a high-stakes battle over whether the media and the public have a right to know what NHL executives said and did behind the scenes about violence in the game and player head injuries.
So far, the NHL has turned over more than 2.5 million pages of internal league documents in the case. The vast majority of those documents, however, are sealed by a court order at the NHL’s request.
But on Tuesday in Minnesota, a judge is scheduled to hear from lawyers for the former players and CTV’s W5 that the public has a right to review an initial batch of 61 documents, most of which have been completely hidden from public view.

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